The world's demand for energy is increasing and is expected to double in the next 50 years. To meet the energy demand, sustainable carbon-neutral energy sources must be exploited. Solar energy is a greatly underutilized sustainable resource. New large-scale, sustainable energy technologies are required to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and to decrease the anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases. Technologies for the capture, conversion and storage of solar energy, specifically in the form of chemical bonds, will allow us to develop carbon-neutral energy sources.The design and development of CO2 reduction photocatalysts using Earth abundant metals is described. Our targets include the synthesis of ligands capable of absorbing light in the ultraviolet and visible range and coordination of these ligands to earth abundant metal centres, such as Fe, Ni, Mo and W. Photocatalytic testing will be carried out towards the reduction of CO2 to CO. Subsequent modification of the ligands to incorporate a phosphonate tether will allow grafting of the newly designed catalysts to semi-conducting electrode materials. Catalysis will then be carried out in a heterogeneous fashion in aqueous solution rather than in organic solvents. This will make use of water, the world's most abundant proton source for sustainable CO2 reduction. This cathodic half-cell will then be combined with a water-oxidizing anode to form an overall photoelectrochemical cell which will make syngas (H2 and CO) from water and sunlight.
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